On The Gas, On The Brakes From Pocono

(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

From the drivers in the broadcast booth, to a fox on the track, and the champ getting his bell rung, the “Pocono-zone” lived up to its name as the best in the business tried to negotiate the Tricky Triangle. Before we head off the Michigan, let’s see who reigned supreme.

On The Gas…

5) Denny Hamlin – After two consecutive top-10 finishes, Joe Gibbs Racing is showing progress. Hamlin was looking solid at one of his favorite tracks. However, with new strategy playing out with the stages, Hamlin and Wheeler fell short of a third straight top-10 as they finished 12th.

4) Erik Jones – The rookie continues to shine, making Barney Visser and Joe Gibbs look like geniuses. We always say, “Wait till Charlotte and see where a team is.”

Since Charlotte, it’s been solid top 10 runs. The last lap crash at Dover prevented him from sitting on three straight top-seven finishes. Jones heads to Michigan with a career best third.

3) Martin Truex Jr. – If you have an issue, Truex proved it’s best to have it early – like first practice early. The No. 78 team overcame a power steering issue and an engine change, which brought about a complete overhaul of the car. It all worked, as he raced from the rear and challenged for the lead late in the going, which leaves him with a one point edge going into Michigan.

2) Kevin Harvick – Boom goes the…well, maybe not. Harvick downshifted from third to second late in the Pocono 400 while battling for position. Normally, that results in a trip to the garage. Just ask Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Harvick owes a steak dinner to Doug Yates as the Ford power plant held together, allowing him to make Ryan Blaney sweat a little.

1) Ryan Blaney – You really thought it would be someone else? Blaney became the third first time winner in 2017. Moreover, he was a victor that had the crowd in the Pocono grandstands erupt with cheers, staying there well after the checkered flag. Surely, he’s a young driver that will be a fan favorite for years to come.

Now, it’s off to the flip side. Who was on the brakes? Time to see who was hard on their brakes.

On The Brakes…

5) Joey Logano – It may be bad luck, or it may be the team is trying to rebound from the encumbered win at Richmond. No matter the case, Logano and the No. 22 team have struggled since late April. Trouble is Logano’s co-pilot of late. A flat tire on lap six of the Pocono 400 put them behind the eight ball, as they could not run better than 23rd at the end of the day.

4) Gray Gaulding – Gaulding’s best finish of the season is 20th at Talladega. As he’s shown very little improvement with another “off the lead lap” finish at Pocono, BK Racing will give Gaulding’s seat to Ryan Seig this week at Michigan. Certainly, there are plenty of questions surrounding the rookie’s future.

3) Kasey Kahne  – Just more bad breaks, or “brakes” for that matter for the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy. A late race brake failure for Kahne had him riding the frontstretch wall to avoid complete disaster. That went to his teammate.

2) Jimmie Johnson – It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of the guy or not. Ultimately, we all shared a collective sigh of relief when we saw him climb out of that No. 48 Chevrolet. A brake failure at 208 miles an hour, even when you scrub off some speed by taking it through the grass, resulted in one of the hardest hits we’ve seen in a while.

1) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – When you downshift into the wrong gear twice in a weekend and blow both motors, it has to make you wonder where your career is at. Dale Earnhardt Jr still has the ability to drive and compete. However, he may not have the opportunity to do it in this year’s playoffs. Time and tracks are running short.

After an exciting finish, with a first time winner on a very high speed tricky triangle, it’s time to head to the Irish Hills where they will be hauling the mail into turn one at around 218 mph. Once again, brakes will be under pressure and scrutiny.

Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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